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Physics In Film

Movies and TV shows, when done right, are great ways to entertain and tell stories. They can be fascinating avenues for experiencing some phenomena we may never actually witness in real life. They can also be ridiculous or laughably awful when scientific liberties are taken a bit too far. Join the CR4 team here in the Physics in Film blog as we explore the good, the bad, and the ugly of the science and engineering we see on the screen.

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3 comments

Scientific Anomalies in “Lost” (Part 2)

Posted May 26, 2010 12:00 AM by moorec74

In Part 1, I discussed the plane crash of Oceanic Flight 815 and the magical healing power of the island it landed on. Now let's see what else was in store for the survivors and their acquaintances during their stay. Although I'm a "Lost" fan, there were some things about the show that drove me crazy as an engineer.

The Black Smoke Monster

A frequent dilemma that the people on the island must deal with is the black smoke monster. From their first night on the island, the Oceanic survivors are haunted by the cryptic stream of black smoke that rushes through the air and captures their friends, who never again see the light of day. While more is explained about this tormenter in the final season, it is still quite a far-fetched idea to be taken as reality. As if this made any logical sense to begin with, the monster takes on human form. John Locke – a human whose dead body is present on the island – even became the monster near the end of the series. Clearly, the properties of this mysterious "smoke" would boggle the minds of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE).

A White Pickett…Sonar Fence?

After Linus killed off the members of the DHARMA Initiative, the Others move into the "village" that the DHARMA group had called home. Surrounding their region on the island was a fence that used sonar technology to protect their living area. This invisible fence could only be turned off with a code. If someone (or something) passed through the barrier, the intruder would begin to bleed and foam at the mouth (as demonstrated by Patchy when he was pushed through by the crash survivors as an experiment).

While a fence like this may seem like the ultimate in home security, don't rush out to your nearest home improvement store for parts to build one just yet. Not only does it seem like a difficult task to complete on an island with limited resources, but Patchy appears again several episodes later – so the fence didn't even kill him. If that had been my shielding fence, I'd want my money back.

Duct Tape Fixes Anything

I appreciate duct tape as much as the next guy and have even used it as an anti-slip layer on the bottom of dance shoes. But one place that duct tape doesn't belong is patching holes on a helicopter. When Frank (the pilot) needs to have the fuel tank patched quickly so they can escape the freighter before it blows up, someone throws a roll of duct tape to Jack to patch the gaping hole where gas had been pouring out. Covering a pressurized fuel tank with duct tape seems like a poor excuse for quick engineering. But luckily for the Oceanic Six, it does the job.

In the final part of this series, I'll mention the movement of the island, bomb detonation, and two characters' special abilities. What are you favorite unrealistic elements of "Lost"?

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Engineering Fields - Aerospace Engineering - Member United States - Member - Army Vet in the aviation industry

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#1

Re: Scientific Anomalies in “Lost” (Part 2)

05/26/2010 8:20 AM

Don't dis duct tape so quickly, please.

In the quirky world of Army helicopter combat in Vietnam in the 60's and 70's we called the stuff 100 mph tape. It was used to temporarily fix all kinds of woes, from bullet holes to low pressure leaks. My favorite fix was patching a bullet hole in a rotor blade so it wouldn't whistle and make the pilots' antsy.

Duct tape helped me get home safely after a bad day on more than one occasion!!

Hooker

PS - I'm not a fan of lost. They lost me with the totally unrealistic crash in the first episode. But now I'm told by my fanboi sister that the whole series was just somebodies life flashing before their eyes as they died after the crash.

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#2
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Re: Scientific Anomalies in “Lost” (Part 2)

05/26/2010 9:45 AM

Damn right - but that would have been the Nashua tape - not all the pass for stuff around these days.

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Anonymous Poster
#3
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Re: Scientific Anomalies in “Lost” (Part 2)

05/29/2010 2:29 AM

something like Bobby Ewing in Dallas then - when after a season of being dead he walked out of the shower, some one was having a dream.

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